Welcome to the 3D Printing Production Planning project

Funded by the 3DP-RDM feasibility study competition, this web page presents the 3DPackRAT demonstration tool which combines build volume packing and scheduling to generate an optimised work flow for industrial 3D Printing.


The 3D Packing Research Application Tool (3DPackRAT) demonstrates the automation of 3D packing and scheduling for industrial 3D Printing. As part of the project entitled "3D Printing Production Planning (3DPPP): reactive manufacturing execution driving re-distributed manufacturing", which is funded through the 3DP-RDM network, it is the result of an interdisciplinary collaboration between the Additive Manufacturing and 3D Printing Research Group and the Automated Scheduling, Optimisation and Planning Research Group - both at the University of Nottingham, UK.

Combined build volume packing and scheduling

Among the advantages of 3D Printing (3DP) is the ability to generate complex functional geometries and the technology's efficiency in the manufacture of small quantities of products. So far however, the wide-spread adoption of 3DP is hampered by the absence of suitable production planning tools. A closer look at the work flow of 3DP leads to a puzzle: while being computerised, the current processes for packing the available build space and allocating build requirements to individual 3DP machines rely on operator decisions, without the help of integrated optimisation tools. This is unlikely to result in effective manufactuing order execution or an effective 3DP supply chain.

Our Vision

The vision guiding the development of the demonstrator is to replace the existing process by a combined "all-in-one" optimisation-based production planning tool driven by a set of novel build volume packing and scheduling heuristics. Essentially, 3DPackRAT aims to determine the best possible 3DP system and production time for each job. The use of such a system will allow the release of significant additional value from 3DP by making the process more effective. Thus, the project proposes a manufacturing execution solution that matches the strengths of 3DP. If multiple users were to connect to such a system, significant digital manufacturing network effects could become available, further enhancing the value proposition of 3DP.

Demonstrator Tool

The Team

Dr. Martin Baumers

Martin is an Assistant Professor at the 3D Printing Research Group at the University of Nottingham and leads the project as Principal Investigator. Martin is interested in the economic and operational aspects of digital manufacturing technologies, with an emphasis on 3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing.

Dr. Ender Özcan

Ender is a lecturer in Operational Research and Computer Science with the ASAP research group in the School of Computer Science. His research interests and activities lie at the interface of Computer Science, Artificial Intelligence and Operational Research, with a focus on intelligent decision support systems combining data science techniques and (hyper/meta)heuristics applied to real-world problems, such as, timetabling, scheduling, cutting and packing.

Dr. Jason Atkin

Jason is an Associate Professor in the Automated Scheduling, optimisAtion and Planning (ASAP) research group in the School of Computer Science. He is interested in both Scheduling and Packing problems, which this project combines. Jason has ten years experience as a software engineer in both large and small companies and has since developed other software projects in academia which are also now used live in industry.

Warren G. Jackson

Warren is a PhD student in the ASAP research group in the school of computer science. He is interested in a variety of optimisation related problems including those dealt with in this project. Warren joins the project as a software developer and leads the design and implementation of any software used within the 3DPackRAT project.

Wenwen Li

Wenwen started her PhD in October 2014 in the ASAP research group at the University of Nottingham. Her PhD project concerns multi-objective wind farm layout optimisation. Within this project, Wenwen will work with Warren on the development of the 3DPackRAT software.


If you would like to know more about our project, or make an enquiry relating to the demonstration tool, feel free to contact us via email at .

Project Report

The project report entitled "3D Printing Production Planning: Reactive manufacturing execution driving redistributed manufacturing" can be downloaded here.